The town of Jackson will turn another year older in January and celebrate with a year-long party.
“This is the beginning of a year-long celebration of the founding of this great community,” Mary Jo Salmon, of the Bicentennial Commission, said.
Jackson turns 200 in 2015, and the Bicentennial Bash organized by the commission will include a year filled with many family events, Salmon said.
On Jan. 16, Friends of Centenary will host a performance of the Centenary College Choir.
Salmon said the Founders Day celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 31 will be an extra special day that includes a visit from Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne.
The day will include trolley tours, children’s games, food and music and will end with a cutting of the town’s birthday cake.
For the Founder’s Day celebration, Salmon said men in town are being asked to consider growing a beard or long sideburns. Women are encouraged to find period dresses, shawls, bonnets or clothing from the era.
Jackson was founded as the seat of justice for Feliciana Parish in 1815, before the parish was divided into East and West in 1824, according to the East Feliciana Chamber of Commerce.
The town served as a land office and as a center for learning and culture.
According to the East Feliciana Parish Tourist Commission, legend holds that the town originally was called Bear Corners for the many wild black bears crossing nearby Thompson’s Creek, and that it eventually took its name from General Andrew Jackson.
“According to legend, General Jackson reportedly camped there with his troops on a return trip north,” Salmon said.
Jackson’s architecture is significant because of its unusually well-preserved historic district area of 124 structures that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, Chamber officials said.
Jackson also shares with the town of Clinton the distinction of a significant heritage of Greek Revival architecture.
Jackson is the birthplace of Louisiana’s first state college, founded in 1825, that became Centenary College in 1845 and remained so until 1908 when it moved to Shreveport, according to a historical marker in downtown Jackson.
Today, the site of Centenary is a commemorative state park.
The state’s facility for the mentally insane opened in Jackson in 1847, and the oldest house in Jackson was built in 1818, according to Diane Womack, public relations for the Bicentennial commission. The house, located on the corner of Charter and College streets, now houses State Rep. Kenny Havard’s office as well as District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla’s East Feliciana office.
Commission officials said the Bicentennial Bash will feature events linked with local groups and organizations.
The 49th Jackson Assembly Antiques, Art and Tours event will be March 28-30; the Jackson Easter Parade on April 4 hosted by the Lions Club, Alpha Mu and Centenary Historic Site; and a wine, art and antique stroll in late April hosted by Charter Street Studio are just a few events planned for the first of 2015.